Design Dilemma: Preparing for the Entertaining Season | Home Design Find

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Design Dilemma: Preparing for the Entertaining Season

traditional dining room how to tips advice

It’s that time of year again, when the festivities move indoors and increase in number.  Are you prepared? Whether you love to entertain or you’re a bit shy about doing so, it definitely helps to be organized. Your goal: to enjoy throwing a party as much as you enjoy attending one! In order for that to happen, it helps to plan ahead. Once you’ve gotten a few bashes under your belt, you’ll become an expert at knowing what you need to do and when, and throwing parties becomes easier and easier.  So here are a few quick pointers to ease you through the entertainment season:


1) Stock up in advance. Make an investment in party items that you can use again and again. Essential elements to keep on hand in your home include:

For a party atmosphere:

Tea lights and candles are important for creating a mood. Vases with flowers add a touch of elegance. Lights on dimmers or low wattage bulbs are critical. A go-to music playlist for a quiet dinner and a more lively party is also important. Once you’ve got these essential items on hand, you’ll always be prepared, whether it’s an impromptu dinner party or a large holiday bash. You’ll know that you can set the scene at a moment’s notice, which definitely reduces stress levels.

traditional dining room how to tips advice

For the table:

You need a good set of wine glasses, cocktail glasses and water glasses. Be sure you’ve got wine and bottle openers and ice buckets.  When it comes to glasses, its best to invest in several sets, enough so that you can host at least a dinner party for 12. When parties get larger than that, you’ll probably want to switch to plastic glasses. If you love to throw dinner parties you should invest in enough tableware for at least a party of 12. Yes, you can do paper or plastic plates for larger bashes, but it will definitely up the elegance factor if you can offer real glasses and china for guests on special occasions. If you’re into cloth napkins, make sure you have enough. If you prefer paper, invest in the heavier weight premium napkins.  And, by the way, just because you offer real plates and glasses doesn’t mean they have to be your best china and crystal like the exquisitely elegant table below.

traditional dining room how to tips advice


You can create a wonderfully creative table with mismatched plates and mason jars as glasses! Just have fun with it and let your imagination run wild.

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2) Think ahead to guest comfort. Invest in an extra set of folding chairs if you don’t have enough normal chairs to get you through the night. They will come in handy again and again. Scope out a coat rack or a bed that can serve as a place to put jackets (same for shoes if you ask that guests remove them.) Make sure there are guest towels in the bathroom as well as extra toilet paper that guests can access if it runs low.

traditional kitchen how to tips advice

3) If you’re not a big cook, it’s possible that you may fall short on serving dishes adequate enough to get you through a dinner party. Invest in the following items and you’ll never have to worry how to serve the soup or slice the cake at Thankgiving.

  • Boards, platters and trays, which can be used for everything from appetizers to desserts.
  • Serving bowls in various sizes, not only for side dishes, but also for peanuts, olives and other pre-dinner snacks.
  • Large serving spoons
  • Lidded soup tureen and ladle
  • Large salad bowl and tongs
  • Several trivets, to protect your table
  • A nesting set of classic white oven-to-table casserole dishes
  • Cake stands — for cake and other desserts, fruit or appetizers

4) Shop ahead and make lists for food preparation.  Your goal is to avoid that last-minute pressed and harried feeling. Devise your menu at least a week ahead of your gathering and do as much shopping early on as you can. Think through festivities from cheese plate and cocktails straight through to after dinner drinks and desserts. You can ease the burden of food preparation by:

  • Hosting a potluck. Ask your guests to bring in their favorite dishes to make the cost and time burden a little less. Potlucks up the novelty factor as well.
  • Cooking casserole dishes ahead of time. Large one dish meals can really cut down on time and cost. Good ideas: lasagna and similar substantial casseroles and chili are perfect, as they can be made a day or two ahead of time, and they only get better for it.
  • Taking advantage of catering and dishes available at your local grocery store or favorite  restaurant. Maybe you don’t have the time to slow roast a pig to create your favorite pulled pork dish. But you can certainly order it from your favorite barbecue restaurant. Don’t feel bad if you opt for catering. If you choose your caterer well and you fill out the offerings with some signature cocktails and a really special dessert, your guests will not complain.

Good luck this holiday season!

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